Review: Willie and the Bandits, Exmouth Grapevine
IT'S RARE that a band makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, but on this showing Plymouth-based Willie and the Bandits belong firmly in that category. They may be an acquired taste, but their powerful mix of acoustic folk, world music, blues, rock and psychedelia marks them out as something rather special.
The band is led by acoustic guitarist and slide player Willie Roberts. With a plume of knotted hair bursting out of his top hat, he cuts a distinctive dash, looking like the Mad Hatter, Natty Dread style. Effortlessly in control of his acoustic guitar and effect pedals, he produces a dazzling range of sounds...
Ably supported by a tight rhythm section – bassist Matthew Brooks and drummer Andrew Naumann – Willie commands centre stage with convincing authority. And if his guitar playing wasn't enough, Willie's gravely vocal works perfectly for the material.
At Exmouth's Grapevine, the band delivered a storming two-hour set that left the audience shouting for more. Apart from a couple of covers – a memorable version of Peter Green's "Black Magic Woman" and a rendition of Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" – the band focused on their own material. Highlights were the reflective "Mammon", hard rockers "Jack The Lad" and "Plastic Fame", and a lengthy instrumental called "Angel".
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Of late Willie and the Bandits have supported Deep Purple and Status Quo. On this blistering form, that's hardly surprising…